A symbol is a concrete thing that represents something completely different from itself to portray an idea. In the play Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee there are many symbols. The three most concrete symbols in the play are the golden dancer, Henry Drummond weighing the Bible in one hand and the Origins of Species in the other and then putting them together, and Reverend Jeremiah Brown. The golden dancer symbolizes Matthew Harrison Brady and that what you see on the outside doesn’t always match the inside, Drummond weighing the Bible in one hand and the Origins of Species in the other and then putting them together represents that both argued sides of the case can and will live together, and Reverend Brown represents all of the bigoted and small minded people who are not open to change.
Firstly, in the play Inherit the Wind the golden dancer symbolizes Brady and what he stands for. The golden dancer is a rocking horse that Drummond received from his parents as a child. Despite the beautiful colour that the horse had, when Drummond went to ride it, it broke into two. This represents the deceptiveness of external beauty in Brady. Drummond explains this when he states, “Whenever you see something bright, shining, perfect seeming… look behind the paint! And if it’s a lie — show it up for what it really is,” (Lawrence and Lee, 110) he is comparing the golden dancer to Brady. In the town of Hillsboro Brady seemed to be this knight in shining armour who is going to save the town, but in reality he is putting up a front to hide the fact that he is imperfect. This is shown when Drummond calls Brady to the witness stand and questions him. Brady starts off extremely confident in himself but as Drummond questions him Brady admits to never reading the Origins of Species, and he begins to question the things he has learned from the bible and weather they are accurate (95-98).
Secondly, when Drummond weighs the Bible in one hand and the Origins of Species in the other and then puts them together, this represents that the two argued sides of the case are able to live together. The actions that describe this are written at the end of the play, and they state,”He weighs the volume in his hand… Then Drummond notices the bible on the Judges bench. He picks up the Bible in his other hand; he looks from one volume to the other, balancing them thoughtfully, as if his hands were scales… Then Drummond slaps the two books together and jams them in his briefcase, side by side.” (129) This act of having Drummond weigh the books as if they were on a scale alludes to the scales of justice and represents that the two books and the two different beliefs that they speak for should get equal weight in society.
Lastly, the town of Hillsboro is full of religious people who are small minded and stick closely to what they have been taught. Reverend Brown is one of the most close minded individuals in the town as he sticks to his thoughts about Bertram Cates and Drummond and does not change them. During a conversation where E. K. Hornbeck says that Drummond was sent to defend Cates, Reverend Brown says, “A vicious, godless man!” (27) Reverend Brown is very strict on his beliefs and that the creation of our species was by God and that everything in the Bible is true and must be followed. He is so strict about this that at a prayer meeting in support of
the trial he called a curse upon Cates and upon anyone who supports him, including his own daughter.
Therefore, the three most clear cut symbols in Inherit the Wind are the golden dancer, Drummond weighing the Bible in one hand and the Origins of Species in the other and then putting them together, and Reverend Jeremiah Brown. The golden dancer symbolizing Brady, Drummond weighing the Bible in one hand and the Origins of Species in the other and then putting them together representing the fact that both sides of the argument and whatever you believe in us humans are all able to live together peacefully and Reverend Brown symbolizing the small minded, bigoted individuals who are not open to change. To conclude, using symbols in pieces of writing engages the reader and helps them understand the piece of writing. Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee used many strong symbols in the play Inherit the Wind that convey important messages to the audience.